Tag Archives: Lambeth Council

Streatham On The TUC March For The Alternative

Over a hundred members of Streatham Labour Party took part in the TUC’s March for the Alternative on Saturday 26 March. Here is a video I made on the day.

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An explanation: why was I tired and bored?

A few friends have remarked that I look a bit glum in this picture. It hails from the South London Press review of 2010. The SLP was present at the Lambeth Council count to take pictures.

The truth is I wasn’t glum at all – just very tired and a bit bored. The national picture wasn’t looking good either.

Tired because I had been at Chuka Umunna’s count for the Streatham parliamentary seat, where the ‘vote sampling’ I was doing predicted pretty accurately the eventual result, albeit that the result arrived at 8am, which nobody predicted. That was because of the length of time it took to separate national votes from local. The count for the locals reconvened later the same day.

Now, why bored? No reason other than than the phenomenal length of time it took to get the votes counted. Largely because somebody had decided that one ballot box – for local and parliamentary elections – would be enough. So the ballot papers were all mixed up.

If I recall correctly, I knew around the moment the photo was taken that Labour had kept control of Lambeth – the first time in twenty years. Well, it’s tough at election counts to look as you feel. Politicians are human. We get tired too.

It was a great victory. Bear in mind the national circumstances. Give a thought to Lambeth Labour’s months of canvassing and, at last, a full-on day of knocking up, from morning to night.

It goes without saying that I was really happy for Labour to have increased its representation on Lambeth Council from 37 (had been 39, but a death and a defection took down two) to 44 (out of 63).  It also goes without saying that I was really happy we retained three Labour MPs in Lambeth, and Chuka Umunna was elected in Streatham for the first time.

So the picture shows a moment in the long slow process of the count. A moment that can best be equated to ‘my train’s been cancelled for 24 hours’.

And though the Lambeth Labour special chugged to victory in the end, of course, nationally we came off the rails. There are many lessons being learned from that.

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Betty Blue

L1000289Yesterday brought the news that one of the Labour councillors for Brixton Hill, Betty Evans-Jacas, had defected to the Conservatives. Lambeth Tories have made a squeaky fanfare of this, with a statement that only showed, if anything, that Betty would say anything to get into the Conservative group, which numbers 6 (and now, obviously, 7). 

Betty allegedly said: “After years of agonising over the failure of the leadership of the Labour Party in Lambeth to listen to the residents, faith organisations, and business of Brixton Hill and Lambeth as a whole, I have decided to become a member of the Conservative Party under David Cameron.  I believe that under his leadership, I will be able to fulfil all of my duties as a Brixton Hill ward councillor.”

Twaddle. If there is any borough in London that listens, at length, to its residents, faith groups and businesses, it is Labour Lambeth. I know this because I am a Cabinet Member and I see how hard Labour councillors work to keep in touch with the views of residents. 

I suspect that Betty is actually speaking about herself – her demands for extra allowances were not listened to because they were immoral, particularly given her reputation as an absentee in Brixton Hill. Leader of the Council Steve Reed explains here. Missing surgeries is hardly a good example of listening.

When she was ill, as she was, seriously – to the extent that the Lib Dem ghouls were leafleting in expectation of a by-election – her Labour colleagues covered for her. When she was not ill, her Labour colleagues found themselves covering for her. She has been a gross disappointment, and she has lost many more friends in the Labour Party than she will ever gain in the Conservative Party, particularly when they realise the baggage of financial embarrassment she brings with her. It will be a dead end for her and a dilemma for the Conservatives.

It’s ludicrous to think, as she appears to, that David Cameron will somehow enable Betty to ‘fulfil all [her] duties as a Brixton Hill councillor’. She has shown no inclination to fulfil those duties as a councillor of any party, which is why she was replaced at a selection meeting last week.

She has been judged shrewdly by her Town Hall peers, Labour Group, over the years since 2006, and at every group election she has failed to be elected for every council post she has stood for – all of which have involved allowances. Now this grasping would-be politician has failed the people who voted for her in Brixton Hill. She should be ashamed.

Labour Group is not ashamed to be rid of her. Her valueless, shifting political mind suits the Tories.

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